Seattle Ethics and Elections Executive Director Wayne Barnett today dismissed a complaint against business PAC Forward Seattle for allegedly colluding with city council candidate Venus Velázquez. The complaint, filed by Southeast Seattle resident Pat Murakami, charged that Velázquez knew Forward Seattle was going to endorse her-- that's why her campaign racked up a debt of more than $30,000 way back in August. (PAC's can contribute unlimited funds "independently" to candidates, but they can't communicate or collude with them.)
Barnett called any evidence of collusion in this case "circumstantial." He cites in the dismissal letter the fact that the Velázquez campaign has still managed to spend $43,000 on direct mail. (Her opponent Bruce Harrell reports spending $47,000 on mailers.) "The relative parity between spending by the two campaigns does not support the claim that the Velázquez campaign is foregoing voter outreach in the general election and instead relying on Forward Seattle to pay for its general election expenses," Barnett writes.
Forward Seattle has so far spent more than $55,000 in support of Velázquez, sending its first mailer for the candidate just two days after she was arrested for Driving Under the Influence. In his letter, Barnett also writes that Forward Seattle organizers Donald Stark and Joe Quintana submitted affidavits, sworn to under oath, that the mailing sent out in support of Velázquez was made "without consultation, collusion or cooperation with the Velázquez campaign or its agents."